Preview: Grid 2 – The Race Returns

Race Driver: Grid was four years ago, and it still feels uniquely fresh. The vibrant colours, the throaty engine notes and the arcade handling all added up to a thrilling ride. So this – a direct sequel – is a most welcome surprise. Let’s find out what’s what.

grid 2

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Race Driver

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Grid was a clever game. By splitting up the action into three distinct categories (and territories) it immediately connected with gamers familiar with each kind of racing, and players could specialise neatly and aim for the vehicles and driving styles that they preferred.

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I was always more into the Japanese circuits, preferring the drift-heavy handling of the Nissans and such over the muscle cars of America or the exotics of Europe, but the fact that the choice was there was clever, and has been aped a few times since.

Few games could call you by your real name. It was odd at first, but I’ve found I’ve often missed it since.

Likewise, the solid career mode was involving and entertaining, providing a solid single player jaunt through a lengthy and difficult campaign. And although the multiplayer servers were flicked off for PlayStation 3 owners a while back the game still runs online elsewhere and still offers plenty of bumper to bumper action.

The game even spawned an arcade machine, but apart from a slight tease from developers Codemasters a couple of years back the studio has been completely silent on a sequel to the much loved original. Something about Grid just clicked with gamers, and they were hungry for more.

The Race Returns

Which, neatly enough, brings us to this. Grid 2. It’s back, and it’s bigger and better than you might have hoped for.

In pre-production since 2010 and now fully occupying the newly branded Codemasters Racing studio, Grid 2 is a fully fledged sequel, which draws on everything that Grid did for a whole new title for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

It’s a way off yet – we’re told nothing more specific than 2013 – but it’s coming.

Once again the player will find themselves battling on the tarmac across the globe – Codemasters are only really talking about Chicago and Paris at the moment, but you can expect plenty of new locations to be featured – think Abu Dhabi, Miami and California.

Total Race Day Immersion

Interestingly, Codemasters are billing Grid 2 as a “cinematic” race experience, something that’s echoed in the trailer and the screenshots. It appears that there’ll be a similar style of presentation to that found in the more recent DiRT games – cutaway camera shots and so forth – and to back this up the developers are punting something called Total Race Day Immersion.

Since the first Grid, racing titles from Codemasters have used first person views in the sections between races to great effect (not least in the current Formula One games) – Grid 2 promises to ensure the race is the “heart of the experience”, and that’s going to manifest itself in the form of considerable advancements to the EGO engine. Expect better damage and smarter, more devious AI.

“We’re pushing boundaries once again with what can be accomplished in the genre via new tools, technology and innovations.”

“We’re going to make street, track and road racing exciting again,” added Clive Moody, the game’s Executive Producer. “The core design philosophy for GRID 2 is that we treat the race as a character, not a consequence of simply putting cars on tracks. Everything that goes into the game impacts on that second-to-second, in the moment, blockbuster drama – the feel and personality of the race.”

Donkey Kong?

  • Sequel to the popular Grid
  • Will be released in 2013
  • Offers single player, split screen and online with RaceNet

Strong words, perhaps, but then Codemasters are right to be confident. The first Grid defined a blueprint for the studio going forward in terms of game structure and graphical style, but it also introduced the ability to rewind (called Flashback in Grid, but used famously by Microsoft’s Forza since) and wasn’t afraid to really ramp up the visual damage and flashy effects.

Sparks and shredded bonnets don’t make a racer, of course, but I always appreciated the happy medium that Grid offered in terms of handling: throwing a car sideways around corners was a blast, but the physics engine was precise and delicate enough when required. It didn’t pretend to be a sim by any stretch, but it was definitely a notch above arcade and clearly accessibility and fun were determining factors.

“TrueFeel” aims to balance real world physics and approachability for maximum driving fun.

In Grid 2, the physics will build on the existing handling model so it won’t feel alien, but the new “TrueFeel System” will ensure that just enough real-world physics are used to hit what Codemasters are calling a “sweetspot” between ease of use and something approaching simulation levels. It means that players can dive in and have fun straight away, but there’s a learning curve available if you want to truly master the game.

Doubling Up

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In terms of car choice don’t expect too much variation from the norm, except that Codemasters are pulling from 40 years of motor engineering for the line-up, with vehicles from – again – the USA, Europe and Japan. Naturally they’ll be fully licensed both in terms of the cars and the sponsors you’ll be fighting for, but you can also expect to see licensed race tracks in amongst the usual city and downhill mountain events.

Grid 2 will also use RaceNet as expected, and will also feature split-screen racing, something that’s sadly missing from a lot of heavyweight games in the genre. It does sound like Codemasters are wanting to go all out to satisfy the fans that have been asking for a follow up to Grid for all these years, and all the boxes that we can think of appear to be ticked.

If Codemasters can nail the handling, get the AI sorted out (and let’s have less of that rubberbanding) then Grid 2 could be something really special. Its gritty, noisy older brother still looks the part and plays with the kind of recklessness that’s all too often missing outside of this particular developer – if Grid 2 can stay true to the same principles, we’ll be in for a fun ride next year.

Grid 2’s official site is www.gridgame.com and those of you of a social persuasion can connect via www.facebook.com/gridgame and www.twitter.com/gridgame.

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40 Comments

  1. Arrggghhh, too long to wait. Think I’ll have to put the older brother back in for another play, even if it is only SP.

    • I loved the meets we used to have. So much fun!

      • They were great times and it was those meets that introduced me to the TSA driving fraternity so many reasons why Grid holds fond memories.

      • I still boot up GRID every now and then for a blast in the trusty old Chevvy but its never as fun as the old tourneys.

        I think I will have to resurrect the touring car championship assuming the sequel still has them of course.

      • Yeah, the meets were fun.
        It was Grid (& Dirt2) that brought me to TSA.

  2. Grid is still my fave racer. I love it. I didn’t see any touring cars in the trailer. Please Codemasters, let there be touring cars!

    This game, as long as its similar to Grid 1, will be awesome for TSA meets!

    • Exactly what I was thinking too. The Grid meets were so much fun! The game was literally perfect, so as long as the 2nd has the same sort of feel, then I will be pleased with it :D

  3. I don’t care if this is a year away. Codemasters already have a day one buy from me.

    • I agree. Where do I pre-order?! The first one was by far the best racer I’ve played recently. There was the perfect balance between arcade and reality. And I loved that I didn’t have to drive myself to each event like some of the open world racers. I could strap in and fully immerse myself in the race.
      If GRID 2 is more of the same, and better, then I’m ready to get my wallet out!

  4. Hey, this may have sparked an interest in the racing genre in me again. It’s been a few years since I last really enjoyed a racing game but this might just be enough to get me twisting my DualShock to get round those bends.

    May I also heap some praise upon TSA here? The presentation of this article is of the highest order, truly beautiful. The layout is crisp, clean and appealing. I love the highlight photos and interspersed text. Fantastic job TSA!

  5. It’s very similar looking to NFS in the clip, which is no bad thing, and as mentioned in the article is just a small portion of the game apart from licensed cars and tracks….which I’m hoping will include some form of Touring car racing series ref. BTCC or WTCC (probs not this class as Black Bean had the license)

    • The inclusion of BTCC would be the icing on the cake.

  6. First GRID had a lot going for it but I disliked it, found the handling to be very inconsistent, the only part I really enjoyed were the single seaters and the touring cars!

    If they can give me at least a consistent handling model that is half decent with a wheel I will play this a lot I imagine.

    • That was the only problem I had with GRID. The game was awesome with a pad but no matter what I tried I could not get the wheel to work properly.

      Saying that I know that Rob improved a lot in GRID once he started using a wheel.

      • Rob’s wheel is always breaking down, maybe his wheel was acting as pad through malfunction :P

      • I think I’ve only had one serious malfunction :P

        It’s true I did see an improvement using a wheel in Grid which seems to go against most peoples experiences. I just put it down to being so bad with the controller.

  7. I really can’t wait for this game, still playing the original even now. I can’t believe I have to wait till 2013!

    • Also, can someone tell me why my avatar has disappeared?

      • first the new xbox…
        now your avatar
        mmmmmm…strang things here at tsa

  8. I loved (still love!) Grid. Played it just the othe week and the option to have the pretty lady call me by my first name was still a brilliant gimmick.

    Very excited about a second outing :-)

  9. and now the E from strange how weird?

  10. This preview was a nice surprise and the game sounds great so far! I prefer GRID to GT purely because its more fun than serious and still just about racing rather than smashing cars off the track. The physics just hit the mark perfectly. I might have to check out Codies DIRT and F1 games now to see what Ive missed.

    • You’ll need Dirt2 and F1 2011 in that case. ;)

      • Muchos gracias! Will F1 2010 do? My dad has that, never plays it. I’ll set myself on eBay for Dirt2 right now though.

      • F1 2010 was ok, as a pilot…..but had pretty unrealistic track handling that was much improved in F1 2011…..can’t wait for F1 2012’s release, Sept 14th or 21st….still not sure when! :(

      • As a bit of a devils advocate, 2010 was a much better game for me than 2011.

      • Same as Jambo. loved 2010. Didn’t get on with 2011

      • 2010 and Dirt 2 will keep me busy for a while then :)

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